Another Way to Support our Mexico Team ’18 // March 4 & 11

Our team of 20 is making preparations for our trip to Rocky Point, Mexico, March 26-30 . . . we are about one month away!

Many in our church family offered their support by purchasing a Build Hope shirt. We sent in our second order last week and between the two orders we purchased almost 80 shirts. The sale of those shirts will generate approximately $500 for our team. Thanks to all who ordered shirts.

Our group, along with help from our church family, has provided concessions at a Karate Tournament in late January and continues to provide concessions at our Upward Basketball League. Our Upward families are generous in not only buying items, but also donating toward our trip.

Many of our team members have sent out support letters to family and friends to assist with the fundraising part of our trip.

There is another way our WCC family can support our team. On Sunday, March 4 and Sunday, March 11 we will have the Green Buckets set out around the Ministry Center. Anyone who desires to give toward the trip can use the buckets for that purpose. This is, of course, on top of what individuals and families give to the church. We don’t want to take away from the support that is already going to ministries and missions in our community and around the world. We are grateful for the support that so many have already shown us. If you desire to help with trip, the green buckets are another way to do that.

Below is our team for ’18. I’m excited that we have a dozen high school students, a few returning members from our ’16 trip and even family members participating in our adventure together.

Please keep this group in your prayers as we prepare to serve in Mexico.

’18 Mexico Team
Rachel Barker
Angela Blouse
Jacob Blouse
Zach Davis
Ken Driscoll
Lauren Ellis
Andrew Garrett
Megan Halloran
Matthew Horn
Cory Huffman
Drew Huffman
Christian McCamish
Beth Puckett
Talent Sagraves
Shane Streber
Terri Streber
Nathan Twine
Calvin Walls
Jeff Walls
Tony Brackemyre


A Unique Thought On The Vine and the Branches (John 15)

One of the passages I’ve heard used a lot when it comes to our relationship with Jesus is John 15. Jesus talks about the fact that He is the Vine, we are the branches and, if we want to bear fruit, we need to remain in Him. We can’t bear fruit by ourselves; we need to stay connected to Him.

I’ve heard that passage referenced in many sermons and talks and I’ve used it a number of times myself. It’s a clear image of how we grow in our relationship with Jesus.

Recently I started reading Beth Guckenberger’s latest book Start With Amen. In one chapter she offers a unique perspective on the opening verses of the chapter.

In verse 2 of John 15, Jesus says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

One view of that verses – and the view that I had – is that if a branch doesn’t bear fruit, the gardener cuts it off. The one that bears fruit he prunes. If the branch is not producing, it will be cut off.

Guckenberger admits doesn’t know much about pruning and tending vines (neither do I). She writes that she had the opportunity to listen to a Bible teacher talk about this passage while they were in an actual vineyard. She retells that a vinedresser, when coming across a branch that is laying on the ground and it’s fruit is drying up, wants to protect the future potential of the vine. So instead of cutting off the branch, the gardener would take a small wooden stake and prop up the vine, with the hope that it would receive sunlight and moisture and learn to grow more fruit.

The Greek word used in this passage is airo. It could be translated as “cut off,” but also as “pick up.” Guckenberger points to other scripture passages that translate the word as “pick up.” The potential take away is that instead of cutting off the branch that is not bearing fruit, the vinedresser picks it up.

That is a pretty cool picture of what Jesus does for us. We don’t always bear fruit. We sometimes go through seasons where maybe we wander away, we lose focus, we are overwhelmed by difficult circumstances (among other things) and we don’t produce fruit. Because Jesus sees the potential in us, because He is able to see into our future, He picks us up, brings us into the light so we can learn to bear fruit again.

I’m sure there are times where a branch needs cut off, but Jesus also demonstrated compassion and care and picked up people who were struggling, hurt and bruised.

What a great reminder that The Vine doesn’t just look for branches to cut off, but invites us to stay connected to Him. He sees the potential fruit in us and picks us up so we can learn to once again bear fruit.

The Alternate Route

Trust the Process.  It’s a phrase you hear that applies to a number of situations.  It is also an apt description of the latest blog post from my daughter.

She is a senior in college and graduation is not far away.  In her post she shares about the struggle of just getting the grade in the class versus learning the content to be prepared for the job market and life.

She writes this near the beginning of the post:

I go to my first week of classes and listen to my professors say what I need to do to succeed in their courses.  They go over the syllabus and they talk about these things called the “course objectives.”  I almost always skip over this portion of the conversation and of this part of the syllabus, heading straight for the grading criteria, but in one of my classes a few weeks ago I really listened.  The course objectives aren’t what we are going to be doing in the class or what it takes to get an “A” but instead they are written to be a list concepts, skills, and applications that we will learn in the class.  Ohhhhhhh okay, learning.  That’s that old thing that they used to say school was all about.

Read the rest of her post and how she applies this idea to our walk with God.  Are we on this journey just to get the grade or are we trusting the process that will grow and shape us into the person God created us to be?

Read the whole post here:  The alternate route

Reflections on a Not So Happy Holiday Season

Now that we are well into the new year and have transitioned out of the holiday season, I keep thinking about this past December.  As school started back up and we all got back into our routines, the question kept popping up in conversations: “Did you have a good Christmas?”  Our answer was a pretty straight-forward (and some what Grinch-y sounding), “Not really.  It was kind of terrible!”

I’ve shared some posts in the past about my mother-in-law’s battle with Alzheimer’s.  She was living in a care facility for over 6 years and early in December, Hospice came in and informed the family that her health was failing.  So, from that point on, through most of the month, my wife visited with her mom almost every day.  Her brothers who live out-of-state came in for a few days and had an opportunity to spend time with her, with each other and to make plans for her services.  Hospice was keeping her comfortable and a Critical Care Nurse was in the room around the clock.  Nana made it through one more Christmas, but then passed away on December 27.  Her visitation took place on the 29th and she was laid to rest on the 30th.

In the midst of all that, our youngest (six month old) was sick for a few days and we had guys in and out of house repairing the floor in our laundry room, installing a new furnace and putting in new flooring throughout our first floor.

So, all those things kind of took the fun out of the holidays for us this year.  We still enjoyed celebrating Christmas with family who came in and with the extended family we have gained through adoption.  But, we didn’t get to do some of the holiday things we had planned.  The Christmas tree didn’t get put up til about one week before Christmas and our annual New Years Eve celebration with friends didn’t happen.

You probably know the feeling – you approach a certain season of the year (holidays, vacation, a significant celebration, etc.) and have an idea of how you want things to go.  You picture them in your mind and then the reality doesn’t match up with what you were thinking.  That was kind of Christmas for us.

As I look back at it, there a few things I personally took away from our not so happy holiday season.

The Power of Hope.  While we knew that my mother-in-law’s days on this earth were coming to an end, we also knew this wasn’t the end.  Because of her faith in Jesus, we have something to which we can look forward.  That message really came out at her funeral and it was a great reminder of the hope we can have in Jesus.

I loved this quote from Louie Giglio I was able to share at the funeral:  “Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is to live as if this world is all there is, when God’s promise is for so much more. So make the most of every moment while you’re here. If you see something wrong, seek to fix it, but as you do, know that Jesus is preparing something brand new (and exponentially better) for those who have put their hope in Him. Live like you are headed to forever. Endure like you believe this world will fade, but Jesus will remain.”

Phyllis lived like this world will fade, but Jesus will remain.

The Strength of Family and Friends.  I was able to watch my wife sit and talk with her two brothers and her dad.  I listened as they shared memories about their mom and laugh and cry together.  I saw them hug each other and just support each other through a time of saying goodbye.

I also saw the stream of people who came to the visitation, who attended the funeral, who sent cards, who sent texts, who left Facebook messages, who prepared meals and who called just to check in.

You know in your mind that those relationships are important and needed, but you really come to understand it on a deeper level when you are the recipient of that love and care and concern.

The Beauty and Brevity of Life.  My mother-in-law lived to be almost 80 years old.  Many people would consider that old or a full-life.  I really only knew her in the last season of her life when she became my mother-in-law in 2010.  But hearing and reading stories about her, I came to appreciate how she enjoyed life.  Life is beautiful for sure.

There were a few times as we sat in her room that I was feeding our six month old son.  There, in the same room sitting about 10 feet apart, were two of my family who were at opposite ends of the spectrum of life.  One was just beginning his life; the other was nearing the end of hers.

I thought about all the life she experienced as a daughter, a sister, a student, a wife, a mom, a nurse, a friend.  I thought about what was still in store for our son and all that he had yet to experience, to learn, to discover, to know.

Life is both beautiful and brief.

The Comfort in Memories.  I shared at the funeral that I learned a lot about my mother-in-law through the memories of my wife.  As we went through this season, my wife would share things her mom liked, recipes she would make, things she liked to do, places she liked to go, food she liked to eat, music she liked to hear and so much more.

While I’m sad my wife doesn’t have her mother present with her anymore, I’m grateful she has those memories.

So, it wasn’t a very happy holiday season for us, but there were some good things about it.  In the midst of sadness, we received comfort. Even while shedding tears, I heard the joy of laughter.

While it’s not a season we want to repeat, we know that the hope we have makes all the difference.

Ready for “The Talk?” @DaytonMomsBlog

My wife is back on Dayton Moms Blog writing about having “the talk” with your kids. Are your kids reaching the age where you need to start having these conversations? This article will help.

My wife is a good one to write about this subject because she talks freely about the subject. She teaches abstinence classes for our local women’s pregnancy center and is always open to answer any questions that students throw at her.

Take a few minutes to read the post for your own benefit as a parent or share it with someone who has children that may need some encouragement to approach this subject.

As she says in the post, “You can handle it, you can do this.”

Christmas Devos For Teens // 5 Days // Free!

During this Christmas season, I’ve been receiving a number of emails with free resources.  This week Youth Ministry 360 made a five day Christmas devotion for teens available . . . for free!

Students can start them anytime this month.  The purpose of these devotions is to help students identify characteristics displayed by characters in the Christmas narrative, and challenge them to apply these in their lives.

Take advantage of this free resource  to prepare for Christmas.  Explore themes like surrender, thankfulness and trust.  A simple tool to use this season.

Click on this link to view or print the devotions:


A Must Read: A Letter to My Step-Daughter @DaytonMomsBlog

I’m a little late in sharing this (it was published last Friday), but it is still worth a read. My wife has another post on the Dayton Moms Blog and it gives a little peek into our journey of being a blended family.

Before we added to our family through adoption, we took on the challenge of blending a family of three boys and one girl spaced out from elementary school through a new high school graduate. Like most families, this was new territory for us and we faced a few challenges. Cheryl writes about that in her post.

I joked with her that her post makes me sound smarter than I really am, but I loved her honesty in this particular paragraph:

He told me to be patient and that was so hard. I wanted an instant family, I wanted you to just fit right into our family with my kids, and that was so selfish of me. Being patient was hard, but oh the wonderful things I was able to see and observe in that time. I watched you grow and mature from a distance.

Take a few minutes to read the letter on the Dayton Moms Blog.  Hopefully it will be an encouragement to you or allow you to encourage someone else facing a similar journey.